Saturday, December 1, 2018

Legends Of Tomorrow Season 4, Episode 6: Tender Is The Nate

This week on a very funny Legends Of Tomorrow, government stiff Hank Heywood thinks the Waverider crew's costing the taxpayers too much money (?), so the team takes him on a ride-along to prove they're worth every penny. Hijinx, as they say, ensue.

Not exactly an original plot, but they manage to put the ol' Legends spin on it. I can't help wondering if this particular storyline was inspired by The CW bean counters, who are no doubt constantly on the lookout for ways to slash the show's budget. 

Thomas Wilson, who plays Hank, has quickly become the season's MVP since he started appearing a few episodes back. I doubt he'll ever become a regular, but while he's here he's great!

This episode also gave us the first meeting between Steel and Charlie, who, if you'll recall, is a demon wearing the face of his former girlfriend Vixen. In typical Legends fashion, it's not a happy "reunion."

One of this show's many strengths is its sharply defined characters. Lately the producers have been having great fun throwing completely disparate team members together, to see what makes them tick and hopefully give them a chance to grow. Their experiment pays off in spades this week, as they trap Director Sharpe, Nora Darhk and new Time Bureau employee Mona together in a cell. I can't imagine three more different characters, but amazingly they have a breezy chemistry together that works perfectly.

And speaking of Mona, she becomes a full-fledged member of the Time Bureau this week, and joins the series as a regular. So there's that. 

I'm starting to wonder just where the show's going with the Atom/Nora relationship. Obviously they're trying to reform Nora, but surely they're not going to add her to the already massive cast? I have a bad feeling they may be getting the two of them together so they can write them both off the show. I hope not, as Atom's the heart and sole of the show!

Oh, and Thomas Wilson shows off his singing skills this week!


The Plot:
At the Time Bureau, Director Sharpe welcomes Mona on her first day as Official Prisoner Dietitian. She gives Mona a tour of the Bureau's new Magical Fugitive Holding Facility. Mona sees the Kaupe from last week looking sad and dejected in his cell, and asks if she can spruce it up with some of his native Hawaiian plant life. Sharpe says absolutely not, sternly reminding her that it's a prison, not a spa.

Mona's then introduced to Nora Darhk, who gave herself up last week. Sharpe warns Mona not to get attached to the prisoners here, as they're all deadly. Especially Nora.

Sharpe returns to her office, where she's surprised by White Canary, who sneaks in wearing nothing but a trenchcoat. Canary says she's there to give Director Sharpe her birthday present. Just then DOD head Hank Heywood barges into the office, and Canary uses her assassin skills to somehow disappear.

Hank's livid with the Time Bureau's massive budget (even though he approved an increase last week), claiming the Waverider and its crew are its biggest expenditure. He tells her she needs to slash the budget or else. After he leaves, Canary comes out of hiding and says she'll talk to the team about tightening their belts.

Hank runs into Steel and complains to him about the Waverider budget as well. Steel suggests setting up a ridealong to see what the Legends actually do and why they're worth the money. Hank says that's a good idea, and demands to be taken to the ship then and there. A reluctant Steel time-couriers them into the ship.

Canary sees them go, and realizes she needs to warn the Legends that Hank's conducting an inspection. She contacts the others and tells them to be on their best behavior. She also warns them not to let Steel see Charlie, since she's wearing the face of his ex-girlfriend Vixen.

Steel gives Hank a tour of the ship, and he's predictably unimpressed. Gideon appears and brags that she can run the entire ship by herself, which makes Hank question why the Waverider needs a human crew at all.

The Legends try to keep Steel and Hank away from Charlie, but unfortunately it doesn't work. Steel sees her hanging out in the lab and naturally assumes she's Vixen. He runs and embraces her, causing Charlie to deck him with a good right cross. The Legends then try to explain to Hank why the girlfriend Steel was always telling him about just punched him.

Canary and Atom take Steel aside and tell him Charlie's a magical shapeshifter who can no longer change, and is stuck in the form of Vixen. He agrees to pretend she's Vixen so Hank doesn't find out they're harboring a supernatural Fugitive and shut 'em down on the spot.

Canary tries to salvage the situation by having Gideon search for an easy mission to impress Hank. She takes them to 1927 Paris, where the locals have reported a monster in the catacombs.

Canary, Steel, Heat Wave and Hank (!) dress in historical costumes and enter the Cafe du Dome, a popular hangout for artists and intellectuals. Steel overhears Salvadore Dali telling the locals that he saw a monster in the sewers. He questions Dali, who sketches a drawing of the creature. Unfortunately no one can make heads or tails of it.

Meanwhile back on the Waverider, Zari, Atom and Constantine try to teach Charlie to talk like Vixen did. She gets fed up, quits and walks of the ship. Atom decides he's had enough too, and takes the jump ship to the Time Bureau to see Nora.

At the Bureau, Director Sharpe refuses to let Atom see Nora, telling him there're no conjugal visits in Magical Fugitive Prison. Mona overhears him and says if he writes a letter to Nora, she'll makes sure she gets it.

Hank's surprisingly unimpressed at the fact that he's in the past, until he spots his hero Ernest Hemingway writing away in a corner. Then he geeks out like a little fangirl, hanging on "Papa's" every word. Steel returns and tells Hank the "thing" they're hunting is in the Catacombs, and they gotta go now. Hemingway overhears him and demands to be part of the hunt. Canary tells Steel to find out what kind of creature they're dealing with, while the rest of them head for the sewers.

Back at the Bureau, Mona sneaks Atom's letter into Nora's cell. Nora looks at it tensely, and says she doesn't want it. She throws it back at Nora, accidentally touching the forcefield around her cell and setting off an alarm. Sharpe enters and demands to know what's going on. She sees the letter, picks it up and starts to open it. This causes Nora to freak out, and she emits a blast of magical energy that knocks Sharpe and Mona on their asses. It also shorts out the forcefield and fries the door controls, trapping the three inside.

In the past, Steel walks back toward the ship. Along the way he runs into Charlie, and the two begin arguing. They're approached by F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda, who think the two are a couple. Fitzgerald says there's a monster on the loose, and offers to tell Steel all about it—back at the Cafe du Dome.

The four arrive at the cafe. Once there, Steel shows the Fitzgerald's his sketch of the monster. Charlie recognizes it and says it's a Minotaur. Steel says he's returning to the ship to figure out how to kill the Minotaur and impress Hank.

Meanwhile, Canary, Heat Wave, Hank and Hemingway (!) search the Catacombs for the monster. Suddenly the Minotaur appears and attacks. Hemingway shoots it, but it deflects the bullet with its mighty axe. Canary punches and kicks it, but it flings her aside. Hank rushes in to shoot it, but it cleaves his rifle in two and slashes his arm. The group makes a hasty retreat.

At the Time Bureau, Sharpe, Nora and Mona sit in the cell waiting for rescue. Sharpe whines that as a clone from the future, her entire life is a lie. Nora says she can beat that, as she grew up in a mystical death cult. Mona says they're both awesome, and produces wine and a birthday cake for Sharpe. The three women then bond over booze and cake.

On the Waverider, Gideon treats Hank's wound in the Med Bay. Constantine cooks up a lady Minotaur pheromone to lure the monster into a trap. Steel searches the library and discovers a way to defeat the Minotaur, by lulling it to sleep with music from a lute.

Hemingway returns to the Cafe, and unfortunately the Minotaur follows him. Onboard the Waverider, Gideon warns the Legends that Hemingway's actions have altered the timeline, and everyone inside the Cafe will be slaughtered. They head out to save history.

In the Bureau, Sharpe's feeling so good that she gives Atom's letter back to Nora, and says she should open it. Mona eggs her on as well. She opens it, and the three see a tiny, shrunken Atom stuck to the inside of the envelope! He frees himself, and Sharpe suddenly turns all business again, ordering him to blast them out of the cell.

At the Cafe, the Minotaur enters and begins attacking, causing everyone to run for cover. Just then the Legends arrive, and Constantine uses his pheromone concoction to draw the monster away from the innocents. Steel then begins playing a tune on his lute, which amazingly does lull the Minotaur to sleep. Unfortunately Hemingway tries to kill it, and the gunshot wakes it up again.

Steel "metals up" and attacks the Minotaur, but even in his armored form he's no match for it. Suddenly a voice rings out, and everyone turns to see Hank singing Sweet Baby James as he accompanies himself on the guitar. The Minotaur stomps over to him, listens for a bit and then collapses, fast asleep.

The next day, Nora gives Mona a letter to relay to Atom. Sharpe tells Mona she's decided not to fire her, and shows her a surprise— she's decorated the Kaupe's cell with palm trees and volcanic rock. She says Mona's right, and there's room for a little humanity in the Facility.

Back on the Waverider, Hank says he now sees the value of the Legends, and has decided to continue funding them. Canary invites Steel back on the team, but for some reason he says his place is at the Bureau for now. She throws him a pizza party before he leaves.


• Time for my weekly dead horse beatin'! Legends Of Tomorrow seems to be retconning itself as it goes along. 

Back in the season premiere, Constantine scolded the Legends for accidentally loosing hundreds (or maybe thousands, who knows?) of magical creatures on Earth. He told the crew they needed to hunt them down all the Fugitives, so he could open a magical portal and send them back to Hell. It appeared that would be the premise for Season 4.

But according to last week's episode Tagumo Attacks!!!, their mission seems to have changed. The Legends are still chasing after the Fugitives, but it appears they're no longer sending them to Hell. Instead they're stashing them in a temporary holding cell in the Time Bureau.

This week we see the Bureau's built a vast, high tech prison to permanently house the Magical Fugitives. We know they're there permanently, because Director Sharpe says the forcefield around each cell is coded to the occupant's DNA. The Bureau wouldn't bother to do that if it was just a temporary holding facility.

Also, when I say this place is vast, I mean VAST! Look at the size of that corridor! It stretches off to the vanishing point!

So what changed? Why'd they go from sending the Fugitives back to Hell to keeping them locked up in prison in just six episodes? Did Constantine get tired of opening the Hell portal, and tell 'em to forget it?

I wonder if it had something to do with Charlie? The Legends were all ready to send her to Hell in Dancing Queen, until Atom pleaded with them to have some compassion and let Charlie stay. Did the Legends decide to extend their mercy to ALL the Magical Fugitives and not send ANY of them to Hell either?

• For some reason the Kaupe's dressed in jeans and chukka boots. Sure, why not?

By the way, the Kaupe is an actual legend. It's a malevolent spirit native to Hawaii that roams around at night and calls out to people, luring them to their deaths.

• Um... I'm not seeing any bathrooms in those cells. Do the prisoners get pee breaks, or do they just go right there on the floor?

• Early in the episode a scantily-clad Canary slinks into Director Sharpe's office to give her a birthday surprise. Hank then barges in, and Canary somehow springs up and holds on to the ceiling without him seeing her.

So does is the ceiling in Sharpe's office outfitted with convenient hand-holds? Or was Canary clinging to the acoustical tile?

• Even though I loved this episode and thought it was a lot of fun, I have to admit that parts of it make absolutely no sense.

Back in the Season 3 episode Aruba-Con, Rip Hunter appeared and told the Legends he was now the head of the Time Bureau, a top secret organization he created to deal with temporal anomalies.

Even though it's never stated, I just assumed the Bureau was a shadowy, autonomous organization that didn't answer to the U.S. Government. Sort of like Torchwood in the Doctor Who universe.

Apparently I was wrong. Suddenly in Season 4, the Time Bureau has become just another governmental department, like the FBI or the IRS. It's even operates on a federal budget!

Somehow I don't think this was the original intent and this like this shift in operations is a massive retcon by the writers, but let's move on.

• In this episode, Hank Heywood reviews the Time Bureau's budget with Director Sharpe, looking for ways to slash it. In particular he's curious as to why the Waverider and its crew is costing the taxpayers a nine figure amount each year.

Hank complains that the Legends spent $1.7 million on historical costumes, as well as a large amount on "assorted condiments."

OK, I get it. It's a comedy bit, and it's a pretty funny one. But it makes absolutely no sense in the context of the show.

We've seen time and again that the Waverider contains a Star Trek-like replicator, which can synthesize pretty much anything— medicine, clothing and even food. There've been several episodes in which the ship's landed in the particular era, and Canary's ordered Gideon to whip up an assortment of period-appropriate clothing. We've also seen her rustle up grub for Heat Wave on many occasions.

Looks like the writers either forgot about this, or hoped we would so their joke would work. Either way, it's a pretty big flub.

• One last thing about this budget deal before I finally drop it. Back in Witch Hunt, Director Sharpe found out Steel was crashing at the Time Bureau. When she asked why, he said, "Well, here's a fun fact about staying in the present— it costs money, and as a Legend, your salary is the friendships you make along the way."

So... if the Waverider has a government-funded operating budget, why aren't the Legends paid a salary? Sounds like it's time for them to unionize!
• Hank insists on an inspection tour of the Waverider, so Steel reluctantly uses his time courier to open a portal to the ship. Canary tries to slip through the portal as well, but it closes too soon and strands her in the Time Bureau. Hijinx then ensure as she scrambles to find a quick way back to the ship.

OK, I get that this was done for comedic purposes, so she'd arrive too late to warn the Legends that Hank was coming. But Sharpe's right there in the office behind her. Surely SHE has a time courier of her own, and could have simply opened a second portal for Canary to step through? Or are we to believe there's only ONE time courier in the entire Bureau, and it's Steel's day to have it?

• Onboard the Waverider, Hank's introduced to Gideon, who has a spiffy new holographic interface, courtesy of Zari.

Back in the Season 2 episode Land Of The Lost, the Legends entered the mind of Evil Rip Hunter for reasons. Inside his head they encountered a physical manifestation of Gideon (who was played by Amy Pemberton, the voice of everyone's favorite timeship). Too bad Zari couldn't have just created a hologram of Gideon that looked like Evil Rip's fantasy version!

• Steel's first meeting with Charlie, who looks exactly like his old flame Vixen, went about as well as you'd expect.

It's interesting to see these two actors playing off one another now, as they have a totally different dynamic than they did in Seasons 2 and 3.

• My favorite moment of the episode: After Charlie punches Steel, Hank chortles and mocks him, saying, "Yeah, but I didn't get coldcocked by a girl."

Canary then slowly saunters toward him and icily asks, "Have you ever been hit by a girl, Hank?"

Hank's testicles shrivel up as he meekly says, "No, ma'am." Canary replies with a "Hmm..." and walks off.

It's a great scene, if for no other reason than it shows us that Hank's stern, rigid facade is largely for show.

• The Legends (and Hank!) travel to 1927 Paris, where they encounter Ernest Hemingway, Salvador Dali and F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda in the Cafe du Dome.

The Cafe du Dome was a real restaurant located in Montparnasse, Paris. From 1900 on it became a gathering place for artists, writers and intellectuals. Eventually it became a hangout for American expatriates. 

Hopefully I don't have to explain who any of the historical figures are.

• Comedy Ahoy! Steel asks Dali to sketch the monster he saw in the Catacombs, but of course no one can figure out which way to hold the drawing. Wakka wakka!

• Charlie gets fed up with trying to pretend to be Vixen, so she tells the others she quits and storms off the ship. A bit later Steel runs into her on the streets of 1927 Paris. Oddly enough, Charlie's no longer decked out in her punk rock gear. Instead she's dressed like a woman of the 1920s.

So apparently she was angry enough to quit the team and leave the ship, but before she did she took the time to dress up to blend in with the locals. That seems... unlikely.

• Does Charlie's accent and speech patterns seem a bit... exaggerated? With all her "Oi, mate" and "Brilliant, innit" comments, she sounds like a tourist's idea of a British person. Actress Maisie Richardson-Sellers (who plays Charlie) is from London, so I guess she knows what she's doing. 

Maybe Charlie's patois sounds so over the top because she's supposed to be from the 1970s, and Richardson-Sellers is trying to replicate the patois of the past?

• At one point, Nora loses her temper and fires off a magic blast inside her containment cell, which fries the door controls and traps her inside with Director Sharpe and Mona.

The blast also clearly shorts out the forcefield around her containment area, making me wonder why they bothered turning it on in the first place.

So the Time Bureau fast tracks the construction of a high tech holding facility for Magical Fugitives, but it doesn't contain any devices that suppress the prisoners' mystical abilities. Nor does the Bureau sedate any of the inmates to keep them from using any supernatural powers they might have.

That means Nora could have killed Mona and Sharpe any time she wanted. Apparently this prison operates on the honor system, and the Bureau just hopes none of the creatures will use  their powers to escape. If that's the case, they might as well have just held the Fugitives in a regular human prison— there was no need to build a costly new holding facility!

By the way, why couldn't Nora just blast her way out of her cell? I guess maybe there's a limit to her magic?

• I don't use the word "delightful" very often, but that's the only way to describe the scene in which Sharpe, Nora and Mona bond over birthday cake and wine. It was great fun to see such radically different characters become friends, and it's obvious the actors had a blast filming it.

• I'm not going to spoil things by asking why no one else in the Time Bureau heard the alarm and came running to free Sharpe from the cell. Whoops, I did it anyway!

• Eventually Sharpe and Mona talk Nora into finally opening her love letter from Atom. When she does, we see a tiny, shrunken Atom hopelessly stuck to the inside of the envelope!

Note to any supervillains out there: apparently the best way to defeat the Atom is with envelope glue!

To be fair, I suppose it's possible he could have pulled himself loose at any time, but was just waiting till Sharpe left the cell so she wouldn't catch him.

• Hank ends up saving the day by picking up a guitar and singing Sweet Baby James to lull the Minotaur to sleep.

As you might have guessed, that's actually actor Thomas Wilson playing and singing in the scene! In addition to acting, Wilson also sings and does occasional standup comedy. He wrote and performs a tune about Back To The Future called Biff's Question Song, which you can listen to here.

Wilson's also a talented painter, specializing in toy and pop art subject matter.

So why Sweet Baby James? Eh, that would be because the song (and album of the same name by James Taylor) was released in 1970 by Warner Bros. You know, the little studio that owns both DC Comics and The CW. So they likely didn't have to go through a lot of red tape to get the rights to use the song!

• At the end of the episode, the Legends finally have a pizza party for Steel. He gets all emotional and tells them, "
Being here with you all has turned me into the man I need to be, and, uh, this place is special. And you never know when it's gonna be over. So I say, Legends, enjoy the ride while it lasts!"

Gulp! What the hell does that mean? It almost sounds like the writers are trying to tell us the show could be cancelled any day now! Jesus Christ, I hope not! Legends is currently my favorite show, and I'd hate to see it go away!

This Week's Best Lines:
Hank: (discussing the Waverider budget, as Canary hides under Director Sharpe's desk, seductively caressing her leg) "If I didn't know any better, I'd say you were in bed with the Legends. Either that, or this Captain Sara Lance is simply screwing you."
Director Sharpe: "What? Screwing me? Sara Lance? Sir, that is... that is crazy!"
(Ah, Three's Company-style double entendre humor. How I've missed you!)

Atom: (explaining why Charlie looks like Steel's ex-girlfriend Vixen) "Charlie here is a shape-shifter. Except she can no longer shape-shift. It's actually a pretty crazy story."
Steel: "Let me guess: she turned into Amaya and conned you into not sending her to Hell and Constantine put a spell on her and now she's stuck like this?"
Canary: "That is... weirdly accurate, yeah."
Steel: "Yeah."
Atom: "I guess it's not such a crazy story."

Charlie: "You want me to pretend to be this wanker's ex?"
Atom: "Sounds like classic Legends hijinks to me!"

Canary: (playing up to Hank) "Hey, Legends, you hear that?"
Steel: "We got a hit on the Magic-O-Meter."
Atom: "Oh, where in history are we gonna end up next?"
Canary: "Where will it be? The Wild West, medieval China, or Paris in the Roaring Twenties?"
Atom: "Ooh, la, la!"
Canary: "Gideon, plot a course."
Gideon: "Yes, Captain, right away."
Hank: "So explain to me how this Magic-O-Meter of yours works."
Atom: "Oh, well..."
Heat Wave: "Thingy goes beep and we kick ass."
Zari: (horrified) "Meaning we investigate each time period..."
Constantine: "We find the creature..."
Canary: "We bring it to the Bureau..."
Atom: "And hopefully learn some life lessons along the way!"

Canary: "Zee, John, Ray, and 'Amaya' will stay on the ship to quarterback while the rest of us go in search of whatever is wreaking havoc on Gay Paree."
Heat Wave: "I thought that was, uh, inpolitically correct."
Zari: "Politically incorrect."

Steel: (as the Legends and Hank arrive in Paris) "Cafe du Dome, 1927, home to the Lost Generation. Writers, artists, ex-pats, they all..."
Hank: (rudely interrupting) "All right, so where's this monster?"
Steel: "Yeah, who needs historical context and wonderment?"

Hank: (to Steel) "This is your plan? To catch this creature, you ask a bunch of artsy-fartsy fools... oh, my God. It's him. It's Papa."
Canary: (also to Steel) "Papa? What, your grandfather's here?"
Steel: "No."
Heat Wave: "Thought he blew up in space."
Steel: "You are so insensitive. Not that Papa. Ernest Hemingway. He's like, my dad's spirit animal."

Nora Darhk: (when she finds out she's trapped in her cell with Sharpe and Mona) “Now I know why they took my shoelaces”

Steel: "Pardon moi. Uh, you said you saw a monstrous man. Can you explain?"
Salvador Dali: "Of course. Um, there was a logarithmic curve to his form, the drama of his movement expressing deep personal cosmogony."
Steel: (sighing) "Can you draw me a picture?"

Steel: (to Hank) "Hey, we got to go. I got a lead on that, um, thing we're hunting."
Ernest Hemingway: "You're hunters?"
Steel: "Stay out of this, Hemingway!"
(By itself that line isn't all that great, but Nick Zano's delivery makes it hilarious)

Steel: "Okay, Dali­ saw the monster firsthand when it attacked him in the Catacombs, and he drew me this."
(He shows Canary and Hank a drawing on a stained napkin)
Steel: (turning the napkin around) "Um, wait."
Hank: "What the hell am I looking at?"
Steel: (turning it again) "No, no, no, here."
Canary: "Yeah, I still don't see it."
Steel: "All right, ignore the melting clocks."

Canary: "Yeah, just a little drunk hunting with Hemingway. What could go wrong?"

Canary: (as the Minotaur attacks them in the Catacombs) "We have to go now!"
Hemingway: "I'll never surrender!"
(The Minotaur swings its giant axe at him)
Hemingway: "But I will strategically retreat!"

Hank: (trying to leave the Waverider's Med Bay to fight the Minotaur) "I owe it to him to finish this fight!"
Gideon: "Sedative administered."
(Hank passes out)
Steel: "And you thought a Minotaur was bullheaded?"
Canary: "Ooh, mythology burn. It's good to have you back."

Mona: "So that's it? I finally find a job where I can use my skills..."
Sharpe: "Debatable."
Mona: "And I blow it in the first week. Guess I'm stuck doing my fallback plan— going back to law school. At least Yale wants me."
Sharpe: "Wait, wait, that's the fallback plan? Law school? What are you even doing here?" Mona: "This is my dream job. It's my mom who wants me to be a lawyer."

Sharpe: "And that's when I found out I was from the future."
Mona: "Whoa, the future!"
Sharpe: "Yep. It was all fake: my parents, my memories, growing up in Fresno."
Nora: "Still better than spending your childhood with The Order Of The Shrouded Compass."
Mona: "Is that like The Sisterhood of Traveling Pants?"
Nora: "Even worse. Death cult."

Mona: (to Sharpe and Nora) "Are you two kidding me right now? Ava, you're a clone from the future and you run the Time Travel Bureau. And you're a witch. And you escaped a cult and a real-life demon."
Nora: "I did."
Mona: "You two are like, the two coolest women I have ever met, and I once met Gillian Anderson at an X-Files meet and greet!"

Steel: "You just you just want to be better than me."
Hank: "Well, you're one to talk about listening. You've ignored every lesson I've ever tried to teach you."
Steel: "Because it's the same lesson over and over again. You want me to be more like you, Hank. But guess what. I'm not like you. I don't like televised golf or Tom Clancy books or '70s folk rock. I don't know if you happened to notice, but I'm a grown-ass superhero who's just trying to play the lute for a Minotaur!"

Hemingway: (to Canary) "I warn you, I will strike a woman!"
(Canary knocks him out with one punch)
Canary: "That's for being on my summer eighth grade reading list!"

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